Having lived and worked in West Pilton, Edinburgh for 30 years, I am now really happy to be living in Port Seton and Headteacher of Prestonpans Infant School. What excites me about working in schools is the opportunity to nurture children, families and communities to learn and to celebrate life and learning. Since 2005, I have been inspired by the community of Burmese refugees in Mae Sot, Thailand, who struggle against incredible odds to give the best education possible to their children. I've been honoured to spend time with them each summer and pray the changes in Burma will give freedom to her people.
Cockenzie and Prestonpans go to Ratho on PhotoPeach
This summer Cockenzie Primary School and Prestonpans Infant School have held a joint Summer Transition Programme. The last session was a family awayday at Ratho. What a great day we had, filling the 70 seater bus, missing the rain and having fun together. All the staff and parents and carers worked together to make the bacon rolls and cream scones and to make sure the children mixed together and played happily. In the kitchen, a Cockenzie mum said, “It’s been really great for the kids to get to know each other. After all they’ll all be in Preston Lodge together.” Working together’s been very energising for the staff too and we enjoyed our team work. Most of all, our wee ones have had an extra boost to help them feel ready for school through this long 7.5 week summer holiday.
Thanks to the Integration Team and CLD for working with us all. Thanks to Support from the Start for making it all possible.
Here’s a great community project for retired men in East Lothian. Men in Sheds is aiming to set up a community workshed with tool for retired men to use and to be involved in community projects. It’s all kicking off at a meeting in Macmerry Village Hall on Wednesday 10 April at 1.30pm. Let’s tell our granddads all about it.
Recently Tracey Berry and Sheila Laing, gave 2 presentations in East Lothian on how schools and services can work with all parents and carers in universal and targeted ways. Around 80 professionals were inspired and motivated to reflect on their practice by Tracey’s work. Here is an abbreviated version of the presentation with a few of Tracey’s ideas and how they are being taken forward in East Lothian.
Today at Prestonpans Infant School, we started our new Friday afternoon nursery session for young parents and their children under 3 years of age. What a joy it was to welcome a young couple with their 12 day old baby. We are all awed by the fact that this wee lad will be coming to our school to play on Friday afternoons as he grows and develops and comes to nursery then school. What a privilege. Why do we wait till they’re 3? Another single dad came along too and it was great to see the dads chatting about their bairns.
A ray of hope indeed…..
Thank you Ronnie Hill for making this all possible…..
Prestonpans Early Years Link Up Group Launch on PhotoPeach
Prestonpans Early Years Link Up Group launched at the Pennypit Centre on 17 January 2012 when local parents, carers, professionals, community group reps and politicians joined together to talk about ways we can ACT together to improve opportunities for the youngest children (pre birth to 8 years) in Prestonpans, Port Seton and Longniddry. After hearing how East Lothian Council and Lothian Health are working together to set these groups up in each of the East Lothian clusters, following on from the success of Support from the Start, we split into groups to discuss how the Prestonpans Group can CHAMPION early years so that our babies and young children can have the best start in life. They are our future.
Next step in the process will come at the Support from the Start Conference on Tuesday 7 February 2012 at the Quay in Musselburgh. Watch this space to learn more.
7 teachers from Wallyford and Prestonpans Infant School attended Education Scotland’s Early Years Conference on Saturday 19 November. It was heartening to hear Angela Constance, Minister for Children and Young People and Bill Maxwell, Chief Executive of Education Scotland affirm their commitment and support to moving strongly forward to give Scotland’s young children the very best opportunities to develop and learn.
Those of us from East Lothian felt very proud during the next session when Professor John Frank demonstrated the need for early intervention strategies to be informed by strong community assessment. In January 2012, all P1 pupils in East Lothian will be assessed by their teachers as part of East Lothian piloting the EARLY DEVELOPMENT INSTRUMENT. (You can read more about this here EDI HeadTeachers_conference_26Jan). Parental input to the assessment and subsequent action was questioned from the floor. I was able to speak about East Lothian’s plan to roll out early years link up groups in each of the 6 cluster communities in East Lothian where people determined to improve experiences for our youngest children can work together to create local solutions for the community. You can read about this in Ronnie Hill’s post below on 27 October 2011.
However, the afternoon presentation was the one that had every practitioner and parent or carer in the hall riveted. The enthusiastic, energetic, radical Dr Margy Whalley, Director of Pen Green Research Centre in Corby, England, inspired us all to keep fighting for the best opportunities for our youngest children in true partnership with their parents and carers.
What were her key messages? So so many that we could have listened all afternoon. Why was she only given one hour?
1. In every small community there should be a service for children and their families. 2. Don’t problematise your parents, every parent finds the job of being a parent hard. Stop ‘othering’ people. 3. The adults around the child need to learn from each other, accepting that nobody has all the answers. 4. Change the power balance between citizens (parents/carers) and professionals. Embrace cultural humility. 5. I loved this one….”You can’t stretch a 2 year old. A 2 year old has the right to be a 2 year old.” Overteaching damages learning.
You can learn more about Margy, her centre and their approach on their website as she’s going to post her riveting powerpoint there. www.pengreen.org. I came back fired up with more ideas and determined to use our new early year link group for Prestonpans to work with others to support our under 3s especially and keen to have a Support from the Start visit to Corby! Sheila Laing, Education Service Champion